Time domain diffuse optical spectroscopy: In vivo quantification of collagen in breast tissue

Paola Taroni, Antonio Pifferi, Giovanna Quarto, Andrea Farina, Francesca Ieva, Anna Maria Paganoni, Francesca Abbate, Enrico Cassano, Rinaldo Cubeddu

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


Time-resolved diffuse optical spectroscopy provides non-invasively the optical characterization of highly diffusive media, such as biological tissues. Light pulses are injected into the tissue and the effects of light propagation on re-emitted pulses are interpreted with the diffusion theory to assess simultaneously tissue absorption and reduced scattering coefficients. Performing spectral measurements, information on tissue composition and structure is derived applying the Beer law to the measured absorption and an empiric approximation to Mie theory to the reduced scattering. The absorption properties of collagen powder were preliminarily measured in the range of 600-1100 nm using a laboratory set-up for broadband time-resolved diffuse optical spectroscopy. Optical projection images were subsequently acquired in compressed breast geometry on 218 subjects, either healthy or bearing breast lesions, using a portable instrument for optical mammography that operates at 7 wavelengths selected in the range 635-1060 nm. For all subjects, tissue composition was estimated in terms of oxy- and deoxy-hemoglobin, water, lipids, and collagen. Information on tissue microscopic structure was also derived. Good correlation was obtained between mammographic breast density (a strong risk factor for breast cancer) and an optical index based on collagen content and scattering power (that accounts mostly for tissue collagen). Logistic regression applied to all optically derived parameters showed that subjects at high risk for developing breast cancer for their high breast density can effectively be identified based on collagen content and scattering parameters. Tissue composition assessed in breast lesions with a perturbative approach indicated that collagen and hemoglobin content are significantly higher in malignant lesions than in benign ones.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of SPIE - The International Society for Optical Engineering
ISBN (Print)9781628416893
Publication statusPublished - 2015
EventOptical Methods for Inspection, Characterization, and Imaging of Biomaterials II - Munich, Germany
Duration: Jun 22 2015Jun 24 2015


OtherOptical Methods for Inspection, Characterization, and Imaging of Biomaterials II


  • absorption
  • breast cancer
  • Collagen
  • diffuse optics
  • scattering
  • tissue diagnostics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Applied Mathematics
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering
  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • Condensed Matter Physics


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